Colorado Governor Jared Polis is putting the brakes on part of Colorado's reopening plans. But he's also touting a new phase to allow some areas to open even more. Mark Duggan explains:
The governor's new executive order closes bars and nightclubs that don't serve food for the next 30 days. They'd only been given the green light to reopen less than two weeks ago. The move comes amid two straight weeks of rising coronavirus infection rates in Colorado. Still, Colorado has escaped the large increase seen in other Western states.
In a press conference Tuesday, Polis noted surging coronavirus cases in neighboring states such as Arizona and that bars have been linked to outbreaks. He said he wanted to prevent Colorado from becoming a bar mecca during the pandemic. He also pointed to a couple of sources for why many of the new cases are among young people.
“It is partially attributable to the bars and nightclubs. And also potentially to the large public gatherings and the protest movements that we've seen outside.”
The new order means bars or nightclubs must close their public seating areas within 48 hours. They can still do delivery or pickup service for alcohol. Bars that sell food can stay open, as long as patrons are spaced six feet apart and aren't mingling.
It's the first backward step in the state's effort to reopen during the pandemic. But even with the clampdown on bars and nightclubs, Polis will begin transitioning to the next phase, known as “protect our neighbors,” next week. It will likely remain in effect until there is a vaccine or cure for COVID-19.
Under “protect our neighbors,” counties must certify that they are seeing a decrease or flattening of new infections, have sufficient hospital resources, and can respond quickly if a new outbreak occurs.
The governor's order closing bars points out the unpredictable nature of reopening the economy during a pandemic. Still, Polis pointed to a bright spot in the state's jobless numbers, which are lower than the national average.
“One of the reasons that we're doing better economically than other states, is because we are doing better at controlling the virus."
KSUT COVID-19 news reporting is made possible by support from individual donors and the Colorado Media Project.